From left, Janis Blackburn, Cora Blackburn-Girard, Suzy Blackburn, Denney Blackburn, Lorraine Blackburn, Daniel Blackburn, Jenny Blackburn-Bowman and Cassidy Bowman. The Blackburn family all came together to attend the ceremony and see David Blackburn be honored by Robert E. Lee High School.
Photo by Matt Gillick/The Connection
Senior classes of past and present generations apart were honored on Thursday, June 6 at Robert E. Lee High School for the annual senior awards ceremony.
“We are honoring three of our class members who were lost in Vietnam. We want you all to join us in remembering our three. It is still hard talking about them.”
Current students, just weeks away from graduation, received awards from the academic and athletic departments. In addition to these superlatives were scholarships given to selected students who demonstrated excellence in character and academics. Speaking in regards to these honors Principal Abe Jeffers said, “We have quite a tally of scholarships with a total of about $2.1 million.” One in particular was the Class of 1962 Blackburn, Brown and Plunkett Memorial Scholarship.
Graduates from ’62 and acting LAFA representatives Jon Clarke and Lane LeBosquet took to the podium holding a poster with the three fallen alumni’s graduation portraits and addressed the audience.
Class members from the graduating class of 1962 donated $2,000 to the Lee Alumni and Friends Association (LAFA) to create the memorial scholarship remembering three of their classmates who were killed in the Vietnam War. The criteria for receiving this honor is, as LAFA member Lane LeBosquet read to the audience, “At least a 2.8 grade point average as well as a clean school record without any suspensions.”
LeBosquet then spoke about the importance of never forgetting those who have sacrificed. She said, “We are honoring three of our class members who were lost in Vietnam. We want you all to join us in remembering our three. It is still hard talking about them.” Visibly somber, she handed the microphone to Jon Clarke to continue with their program.
Clarke spoke next and gave a biography of the men the scholarship is named after: David Blackburn, David Brown and Gerald W. Plunkett. David Blackburn’s family attended the ceremony, including his father Denney and mother Lorraine. Clarke said Blackburn is remembered as “a gentleman who had a quick wit and talent for music.”
He died at the age of 23 as a first lieutenant helicopter pilot after crashing his helicopter following a firefight. David Brown graduated from West Point and served in Vietnam as a foot soldier making the rank of captain and killed at the age of 24 from small arms fire. Gerald Plunkett was a helicopter pilot and also a captain; he fell at 24 when he crashed from hostile gunfire, only two weeks after Brown fell.
Before LeBosquet announced the winner Clarke closed with pointing to the poster of the three men and advised, “You look at their graduation pictures and they were like you. You may someday be called as well to step forward.”
LeBosquet then announced the winner was Sophia Kim. Hiding her initial shock, the elated senior accepted her award. After the ceremony, Kim said she was “actually really honored and surprised. I am so happy they chose me. I want to definitely carry on the three alumni’s names in the community because that is the best way in enduring their legacy.” Kim will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall.